[OPE-L:8703] Re: Exchange, value

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Wed Apr 02 2003 - 10:50:33 EST

Cologne 02-Apr-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8700]

clyder@gn.apc.org schrieb Wed, 2 Apr 2003 09:11:30 +0100:

> Quoting Michael Eldred <artefact@t-online.de>:
> > I think this kind of statistical thinking which searches for correlations
> > between factors in data in order to uncover surmised causal relations
> > exemplifies just how little the phenomena themselves are and have been taken
> > into view.
> >
> > For this mathematical scientific approach to work, from the outset it has to
> > be presupposed that there are linear mathematical relations among the
> > variables. This is the precasting of the situation requiring causal
> > explanation. The statistical analysis of data selected in line with this
> > precasting, usually under highly simplifying assumptions which make the
> > phenomena amenable to quantification, then decides whether the assumption of
> > a correlation was justified or not. The statistical precasting cannot see
> > anything else and presupposes all that seems obvious.
> This is just not true of the literature in question.
> One of the key questions that Shaik et al have asked of the data
> is precisely whether it is adequately explained by a linear
> model ( which the labour theory of value is an instance ) or
> whether there are significant non-linearities. The particular
> non-linearity that they looked for was evidence of reverse-reswitching
> which was pertinent since the existence of such phenomena were
> held to be important in some Sraffian inspired critiques of
> the labour theory of value.
> They found that there was no evidence to support the actual
> existence of these particular non-linearities.
> If you have a hypothesis that there will be some polynomial or
> exponential model that will better explain prices, then formalise
> it and do the work to verify it.

My criticism does not depend on whether one seeks to verify a linear or a
non-linear (polynomial, exponential, etc. etc.) hypothesis, but in the precasting
of thought which can allow the phenomena to appear only quantitatively. The
phenomena have to be quantitatively formalized at the outset. The aim is to
empirically verify a model, a model being a plausible explanatory
thought-construction which is tested by filling it with data, i.e. with what is
'given' by the world of experience (_empeiria_). This procedure already does away
with the simplest and therefore most difficult questions.

But the phenomenon of value itself, i.e. what things are worth to human beings in
the context of everyday practices, is prior to such mathematization, and the
questions arising with regard to this phenomenon are simple philosophical
questions, situated in quotidian life, which hardly move throughout the millennia.
Why not? Because the being of things is generally taken unquestioningly for

That is why what Aristotle has to say on use-value, exchange-value, exchange,
money, production, etc. still has the same weight two and a half millennia later
and why assessing Marx's reading of the pertinent passages in Aristotle is still
crucial in assessing the validity of the so-called labour theory of value.

The social scientific approach to the phenomenon of value is on a different
'planet' from the phenomenological-ontological approach. One could take the
standpoint, as you seem to do, that it's only the mathematically formulable
questions which are relevant for doing (Marxist) social science and that the
philosophically prior questions are an optional extra, even a kind of "rococo
ornament" (Rosa Luxemburg). But the phenomenon of value and its concept are
purported to form the foundation of (the critique of) political economy. Such
foundational concepts must rely on philosophical questioning for their grounding.

There is a parallel here with the natural sciences. Newton's laws of motion
provide a foundation for doing modern mathematical physics, but the fundamental
concept of movement remains totally unclarified. The return to Aristotle's
thinking on movement (_kinaesis_) in the Physics is a return to the primordial
questions concerning the phenomenon of movement itself, a questioning far deeper
than any later thinking on movement and motion. So, too, modern economics,
including Marxist economics, cannot do without concepts and notions of value and
money, but it is not in the position to clarify its own fundamental concepts.

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_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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